“There’s a perfect balancing in the Trinity that protects personal identity and total oneness at the same time.” The Divine Dance, Richard Rohr, p.83
Trinity as mystery
One would think this important Christian doctrine warrants volumes of theological thought. However, until very recently, other preoccupations forced the concept into the realm of mystery. “Mystery” requires belief without the effort of discerning truth. The truth is: our thought processes could not cope with the idea. Few entertained the topic except for some mystics along the way . It was too foreign.
Karl Rainer, an important twentieth theologian, suggested: “Christians are, in their practical life, almost mere ‘monotheists’. We must be willing to admit that, should the doctrine of the Trinity have to be dropped as false, the major part of religious literature could well remain virtually unchanged.” The Trinity, Karl Rainer, pp.10-11 (1997)
The first three centuries before the void
During the first three centuries (CE) several theologians had come to a profound conclusion: “Whatever is going on in God is a flow, a radical relatedness, a perfect communion between Three—a circle dance of love” The Divine Dance, Richard Rohr, p. 27 Then, in 380, CE Emperor Theodosis declared Christianity the official state religion. Manipulation of power and wealth became more important than discerning Christ’s teachings. Jesus’ new idea of God was incompatible with the business-as-usual model. Money and prestige were more familiar partners.
A God of Relationship
Indeed, Jesus presented God as Relationship. His loving Father whom he loved with all his heart danced with him. The Holy Spirit, a manifestation of their love, overflowed demanding to include more. Marriage is the closest model we have of this kind of love. Replace “Trinity” with “marriage” in the quote at the beginning of this blog and you will find the perfect definition of a healthy relationship. In everyday life the overflowing usually shows up as children or other forms of community service for the common good.
Desert Fathers and Mothers
The idea of God as Relationship rather than power led a few of Christ’s followers to head for the desert after 380 CE. The Desert Fathers and Mothers needed space to remain faithful to what they believed was their calling. The simple life to which Jesus had called us became marginalized.
A wildly popular novel inspired us to think about Trinity again. “The Shack” by William Paul Young (2007) reintroduced the idea of relationship. Ordinary people began to discuss what it might mean. If God is a God of loving relationship then She has invited us into Relationship. It encompasses not only God and each other but all of creation. Jesus prayed we might share in the joy, the healing, the wholeness, the dance. (John 17:21) Let us surrender to Love and become whole. If we surrender, we win. Everyone does. Life is so good.